Shivshankar Menon, IFS (Retd)

Visiting Professor and Chair of Ashoka Centre for China Studies, Ashoka University   

Shivshankar Menon is a Distinguished Fellow at CSEP and a Visiting Professor at Ashoka University. His long career in public service spans diplomacy, national security, atomic energy, disarmament policy, and India’s relations with its neighbours and major global powers. Menon served as national security advisor to the Indian Prime Minister from January 2010 to May 2014. He currently serves as chairman of the advisory board of the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi. He was also a Distinguished Fellow with Brookings India. He is the author of “Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy” published by the Brookings Press and Penguin Random House in 2016. His new book, “India and Asian Geopolitics; The Past, Present” is likely to be out in 2021.

Menon has previously served as foreign secretary of India from October 2006 to August 2009 and as ambassador and high commissioner of India to Israel (1995-1997), Sri Lanka (1997-2000), China (2000-2003) and Pakistan (2003-2006). From 2008 to 2014, he was also a member of India’s Atomic Energy Commission. A career diplomat, he also served in India’s missions to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Geneva and the United Nations in New York.

As high commissioner of India to Pakistan, Menon restored high commissioner level relations after a gap of a year and a half and initiated what is so far the best period in the two countries’ relationship. He also served as India’s ambassador to China, restoring relations following the India nuclear weapons tests of 1998. During his work as high commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, he was responsible for the free trade agreement with Sri Lanka. Menon was the second Indian ambassador to Israel and oversaw the beginning of the now flourishing India-Israel defence and intelligence relationship.

During his service in the Ministry of External Affairs from 1992 to 1995, Menon negotiated the first boundary related agreement between the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China, the root of the subsequent series of agreements that have maintained peace on the border despite ongoing boundary disputes. He also served as special representative of the prime minister of India on the boundary issue from 2010 to 2014, and has dealt with the India-China boundary and India-China relations since 1974.

Menon has been a Richard Wilhelm Fellow at the Center for International Studies at MIT and Fisher Family Fellow at the Belfer Center, Harvard University. In 2010, he was chosen by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers.” He attended the Scindia School, Gwalior and St. Stephens College of the University of Delhi, where he studied ancient Indian history and Chinese. He speaks Chinese and some German.